By Jaden Rae
Disclaimer: We do not encourage illegal activity. Check with and adhere to your local laws. We do not claim psychedelics or plant medicine to be a substitute for professional medical care. Always consult with your doctor. The goal of this article is to promote safety and education.
What Is The Afterglow?
If you’ve ever found yourself on a mind-bending psychedelic journey, you’ve likely experienced that magical space upon the come-down where reality’s curtain hasn’t quite dropped, and you’re still feeling glowy and profound. I like to call this the “afterglow”.
The afterglow is an extended encore to the main event, where all the epiphanies and shifts in perspective reside fresh in your mind, ready to be introduced into your everyday life. It’s also an integral opportunity for growth, healing, and transformation that often gets overlooked, like a stellar B-side on your favorite record.
Making sense of all those insights can be tricky. That’s where integration comes in.
Integration is the act of understanding, accepting, and incorporating these insights into everyday life. It is the mental housekeeping needed to make sure the wisdom from your trip doesn’t get lost in the cosmic laundry.
In this article, we’ll get down to the nuts and bolts of afterglow integration, exploring both conventional and unconventional tips and techniques.
What To Expect From The Afterglow
You’ve just returned from your psychedelic voyage, and the world’s looking a tad different, isn’t it? Welcome to the afterglow, my friend. It’s like the cosmic afterparty, where the universe is still whispering its secrets, and you’re riding that mystical wave between two worlds.
Each person’s afterglow is unique to them, and it can vary based on what you’ve consumed, your mindset, the environment, or even what you had for breakfast. So don’t stress if your afterglow doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles—or if it comes with extra!
Many people find that their afterglow shifts over time. One moment, you might be floating in bliss, and the next you’re contemplating the meaning of that weird dream you had three years ago. Here are some other common elements of the afterglow experience:
- A Feeling of Connection: Whether it’s to yourself, others, the universe at large, or that houseplant you’ve been neglecting, you might feel a newfound bond with everything around you.
- An Emotional Whirlwind: Joy, sadness, gratitude, confusion. Deep emotions often follow psychedelic experiences. This is totally normal, even if it feels like you’re on an emotional roller coaster.
- Creative Sparks: Suddenly, you’re Picasso with a paintbrush or Shakespeare with a pen. Creativity often flows like a wild river during the afterglow. Go with it!
- Deep Reflection: Those big questions in life? Yeah, they tend to pop up. It’s a prime time for some serious soul-searching and the pondering of existential riddles.
- Physical Sensations: You might still feel a tingle in your toes or a warmth in your heart. It’s like your body’s still grooving to a rhythm only it can hear.
The afterglow is like a cosmic sandbox, an experiential playground where you get to explore, reflect, and make sense of your journey. It’s wild, wonderful, and sometimes, downright wacky. But hey, that’s why we’re here – to make sure you’ve got the tools to navigate this mystical terrain like a seasoned pro. Ready to turn those cosmic revelations into practical wisdom?
Afterglow Integration Tools & Techniques
I spoke recently with my friend Donny Starkins about some of his favorite integration rituals. Donny, an international yoga instructor, mindfulness teacher, podcaster, and personal development coach in San Diego (you can find him on Instagram at @donnystarkins), had this to share:
“When the journey ends, that’s when the real work truly begins. For me, it’s about drawing closer to Spirit and grounding myself in that space. I always turn to meditation and journaling to capture the flood of ideas and reflections. I consider this a crucial step in the integration process; it’s how we give shape and meaning to those swirling thoughts.
I also have a text thread circle—a small group where every morning, we all share our gratitudes. It’s made up of likeminded souls who offer support and love unconditionally. A gratitude practice can sometimes feel repetitive, but this text chain injects spontaneity. It keeps things fresh, making us more likely to remain committed. At the end of the day, the real magic isn’t just in the experience itself, but in how we integrate it into our everyday lives.”
Hearing Donny describe his process created an analogy in my mind: embarking on a journey and merely watching it unfold without integration is like sitting through an incredibly profound movie and then just walking out of the theater, without taking any action to incorporate any insights. But through integration, you can appreciate the depth of your journey, embody and instill its lesson, making them part of your everyday reality.
Donny’s emphasis on gratitude resonated deeply with me. I often say that gratitude is so much more than just a hashtag. It’s a powerful state of being. You attract what you radiate, not what you want. So, when we radiate gratitude, we set in motion an energy that draws positive experiences, people, and opportunities into our lives. Instead of just wishing for good vibes, we can be the source of them and watch how the world mirrors that joy and appreciation right back at us.
Navigating the afterglow of a psychedelic journey can be both exhilarating and bewildering. You’ve glimpsed profound insights, but how do you bring them back into daily life? How do you integrate these revelations in a way that’s meaningful? Here are some tools and techniques to help you make the most of the afterglow:
Penning your thoughts, emotions, and visions is a perfect way to give form to abstract ideas. Whether through words or sketches, journaling helps you remember and reflect on the nuances of your journey.
Why It’s Important: In the immediate afterglow, thoughts and insights may still be vivid and fresh. Journaling helps capture those fleeting moments, creating a permanent record that you can revisit and explore. It’s like freezing time, holding onto the subtleties that might otherwise be lost.
The practice of meditation can build a bridge between the altered states of consciousness and your everyday awareness. You might think of it as a runway for your trip to descend upon. It offers a peaceful space to explore and digest your newfound wisdom, allowing it to integrate with your existing beliefs and values.
Why It’s Important: The afterglow offers a softened, receptive state of mind, ideal for introspective practices like meditation. It facilitates a deeper connection to your inner self, helping you assimilate the revelations and emotional shifts experienced during your journey.
3. Creative Exploration
After a psychedelic experience, you may find words inadequate to convey what you’ve felt or seen. Painting, sculpting, dancing, or any form of creative art can be a therapeutic way to express what may be inexpressible in words.
Why It’s Important: Psychedelic experiences often open doors to new perceptions, sensations, and emotions that can be abstract or overwhelming. Engaging in creative expression allows you to explore and process these multifaceted experiences in a nonverbal way. Creative expression provides an alternative language of expression, and allows you to translate the mystical into the material. Check out psychedelic themed coloring books from Sunwise on Amazon and creative game apps like Kami and I Love Hue Too.
4. Connecting With Nature
Nature has a way of helping us feel connected to something larger. Spending time outdoors, whether hiking or simply sitting by a stream, can foster a sense of harmony and clarity, aiding in the integration process.
Why It’s Important: Psychedelic experiences often dissolve the boundaries between self and environment, leading to profound realizations about interconnectedness and the natural world. Spending time with nature during the afterglow can reinforce these insights, allowing you to physically connect with the Earth and the ecosystems around you. Whether it’s feeling the grass underfoot or listening to the wind in the trees, nature’s embrace is a therapeutic and soul-nurturing way to integrate otherworldly wisdom into your earthly existence.
5. “Anchoring” with a Song or Scent
“Anchoring” is a technique from NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) that involves connecting an internal emotion or response to an external or internal stimulus, such as a song or scent. This association enables you to recall that specific emotion or response whenever you encounter the linked stimulus again.
Why It’s Important: Anchoring creates a tangible link to an intangible experience. By forging this sensory link, you establish a “shortcut” to the memories and feelings you encountered during your psychedelic journey, making it easier to revisit and reflect on them later.
- Create a Text Circle
Find others who are on a similar journey and create a morning gratitude text thread. Donny emphasizes shifts and growth happens best with accountability partners. Use group text apps like Signal for encrypted, private messaging, especially for talking about psychedelic substances.
Afterglow Nourishment For Body & Mind
The psychedelic journey can be profound and exhilarating, but it can also be taxing on both body and mind. A little post-journey nourishment goes a long way in ensuring a smooth transition back to daily life. Here are some healing aids to consider:
1. 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) – Especially after MDMA
- 5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin and can help replenish depleted serotonin levels following MDMA use. It also promotes relaxation and a balanced mood. Find this OTC at most drug stores.
2. Chamomile Tea – Calming and Soothing
- Known for its calming properties, chamomile tea can ease anxiety and support restful sleep after an intense psychedelic journey.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Brain Support
- Omega-3s promote healthy brain function and can support the mind’s flexibility and resilience after a psychedelic experience.
4. Fresh Fruits, Vegetables and Electrolytes – Hydration and Nutrients
- After a psychedelic journey, replenishing hydration and nutrients is key. Fresh fruits and vegetables offer essential vitamins and minerals, while electrolytes help restore balance to the body’s fluid levels, supporting overall recovery.
5. Magnesium – Muscle Relaxation
- Psychedelics can sometimes cause muscle tension. Magnesium can ease muscle tightness and promote relaxation. Magnesium also plays a crucial role in our brain’s synaptic activity, facilitating the communication between neurons. This essential mineral is vital for maintaining cognitive sharpness, mental clarity, focus, and overall brain function.
6. CBD (Cannabidiol) – Overall Wellness
- CBD is known to reduce anxiety, inflammation, and support overall well-being, making it a great ally for the afterglow period.
Integration is an essential phase of your journey that deserves mindful attention and care. So grab your favorite pen, a fragrant cup of tea, or that song that takes you back, and let your afterglow adventure unfold.
About the Author:
Jaden Rae is a Las Vegas resident and best-selling author of the Microdosing Guide And Journal. She hosts a free online community at MagicAndGlow.com, where she leads virtual grow-a-longs and provides tools to enhance emotional well-being, find meaning, create magic, nourish souls and enrich lives. Jaden has been featured on the Today Show, The Early Show, Martha Stewart Radio, Fox Business News and more. You can find her on Instagram @magic.and.glow